Another Set of Numbers

Who decides that a slow Monday morning at work becomes a long afternoon of watching events unfold with growing horror?  Who determines that a footrace becomes a war zone?  Who sits back and says, “You are the ones whose lives will be turned upside-down for no good reason”?  Because whoever it is, they’re a real son of a bitch.

As awful as today’s events were, it was so hard to look away.  I tried to get work done, but the MSNBC coverage I had playing in the background kept drawing my attention with detail after horrible detail.  I don’t know why I felt the need to watch.  Maybe it was the idea of confronting the confusion and fear instead of ignoring it.  Maybe it was to bear witness to it, to be able to say I was there when.  And maybe there was just no other way to process it than to listen to others try to.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of another work day interrupted, nearly twelve years ago.  Although the scope is nowhere near being the same, the sense of vulnerability and helplessness felt the same as on 9/11.  My reactions that day were mostly the same, and borne of the same motivations:  to sear the events into my mind, to remember, to share, even if it was a shared despair.

Only now we’ll have 4/15, another set of numbers immediately evocative of running and sirens and shaky news footage.  And there’ll be memorials and remembrances and we’ll respond with all due reverence.  I just hope we remember the reason for all of it, and don’t let this evolve into a mere symbol, or a justification for whatever cause we try to shoehorn it into representing.  This act was committed in the name of one agenda.  It shouldn’t be used to promote another.

Chances are, tomorrow will just be Tuesday.  And then just Wednesday, and then just the rest of the week.  Of course, that’s what we thought was in front of us when this Monday started.  Someone just decided it wouldn’t be. But we need to let our lives lurch back into motion.  Or else that someone wins.  And they don’t deserve that victory. Not after denying it to so many today.  Life — living it, loving it, sharing — is the best way to face what happened today.


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